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Achzivland *

The Akhzivland Museum in 2015 Photo: רפאל גורי

Achzivland is a micronation, the brainchild of Eli Avivi, an Iranian-born Jew, whose family moved to Palestine in the 1930s. In 1952, Avivi settled near the ancient port city of Achziv , an ancient settlement on the Mediterranean coast, and the ruined village of Az-Zib, which was destroyed during the Israeli War of Independence. Avivi started to illegally construct a number of huts. Some of these huts were torn down by the Israeli government in 1970, but before all the buildings were demolished, Avivi proclaimed the territory the independent state of Achzivland.

La plage d’Akhzivland Photo: Deror avi 

Avivi subsequently brought the Israeli government to trial. Surprisingly, the court ruled to lease Avivi the area of 10,000 m² for 99 years. Despite the legal victory, the legal status of the micronation remained in ambiguity.

Eli Avivi Photo: Elirasa2

In 1961, the Israeli government granted the French resort company Club Med a fifty-year lease over part of the area’s coastline.

In 1970, the Israeli government sent bulldozers to demolish the home in which Avivi had been living. In protest, Eli founded Akhzivland in 1971, setting up a hostel and a museum inside the former home of the mukhtar of Az-Zib. Eli Avivi died of pneumonia on May 16, 2018.

Achzivland is the only “country” in the Middle East that has never been engaged in any military conflict. 

The country even features a small “national museum,” as well as the unique opportunity of getting a passport stamp from Achzivland.

Flag of the Israeli micronation of Akhzivland. Photo:OBCPO1 The flag of Akhzivland has two white images with blue lines. One of them depicts a house which is the main building in Akhzivland. The other image depicts a mermaid resembling the one in the flag of Eemsmond, a Dutch municipality.
Entrance to Achziv state Photo: דוד שי
August 2006 Photo: Gemeinfrei
L’amphithéatre Photo: דוד שי 

History

Based on archeological findings and the numerous burial sites located in the region, it is thought that Achziv was already an important commercial center during the Iron Age. In the Book of Joshua, Achziv is mentioned as one of the nine cities of the Kingdom of Judah. A thriving city was also located on the site during the time of the Mishnah. During the Crusader period, the city was given as a gift to a knight. During the Mamluk period, it was conquered by the Mamluk general Baibars, who established a fishing village at the site called Az-Zib.

Az-Zīb – Achziv (Az-Zeeb – Akhziv)

Achziv – אכזיב – الزيب is an ancient site on the Mediterranean coast of northern Israel, between the border with Lebanon the city of Acre. It is on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Today it is an Israeli national park. Az-Zeeb became a part of the British Mandate of Palestine in 1922 In 1922 “Al Zib” had a population of 804; 803 Muslims and 1 Christian (Roman Catholic). 

Survey map of western Palestine, c. 1880 Public Domain
Ancient grinding stones at Achziv National Park Public Domain
A 1940s map of the area of Achziv from the Survey of Palestine. Public Domain
Az-Zeeb 1948 Public Domain

Just before the official end to Mandate rule on May 14, 1948 and the start of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, az-Zeeb was captured by the Haganah’s Carmeli Brigade, being one of the main places targeted in Operation Ben-Ami. According to Haganah accounts, the residents immediately “fled upon the appearance of Jewish forces, and the Haganah command decided to hold on to [it].” The Israeli localities of Sa’ar and Gesher HaZiv were established on the village lands in 1948 and 1949. A domed mosque from the village has since been restored and serves as a tourist site, and the house of the last mukhtar (village headman) is now a museum.

Achziv National Park

Blue bays and rocky crevices, sandstone ridges and rare plants, sea turtle nesting sites, the remains of the biblical town of Achziv, and the sea-pool bathing beach

The mosque of al-Zib, restored at Achziv National Park Public Domain
Remains of az-Zeeb Photo:Al Ameer son

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